The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on June 16, 1963 · 389
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 389

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 16, 1963
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SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 1963.; z 1 Art in Age of Anxiety BY PHILIP TOYNBEE There is a critical theory which depends on the following often-stated assumption: "We are living in a catastrophic and atomized world. We have lost our traditional faith in God, and with it our confidence in God-ordained churches and states. Human responsibility has been undermined by Freud. We feel helpless when we are confronted by the vast and impersonal intricacy of the modern world. We are threatened every day by the total extinction of a nuclear war..." The catalogue of our unique misfortunes continues and the conclusion which is drawn is that in this "absurd" or unbearable world art, inevitably becomes catastrophic, hysterical and anarchical. Indeed, only an extremist art of this kind can be sincere in such a world as we live in. Statistics Horrify The theory seems to me not only to be false but to reveal an amazingly naive view of the natural and necessary relations between an historical period and the art which coincides with it. I shall not spend much time trying to show that so far as artists are concerned our period is by no means unique. (There is a temporal provinciality which easily equals our familiar provinciality of place: "Our age is uniquely appalling magnificent") It is . true that nothing worse, , nothing so arithmetically bad, has ever happened as the Nazi extermination of the Jews. It is true that the whole population of the world "could now be destroyed in a day, whereas it used to take longer to destroy fewer people and buildings. A Valuable Dichotomy But the artist, whatever he may feel and do as a man and a citizen, has never been concerned with such spacious "appreciations" of a global situation. He has always been obsessively preoccupied, not with the arithmetic either of hu-Turn to Page 13, Column 2 1 " ',!: v -.1., ROMAN FORUM IN "THE FALL OF ROMAN EMPIRE" MAY BE GREATEST MOVIE SET OF ITS KIND EVER BUILT. Movie Expatriates Think Big The two biggest and potentially most important pictures shooting in Europe were "The Fall of the Roman Empire" and "Becket." I was privileged a couple of weeks ago to be in on the making of both. "Roman Empire" I followed from Madrid (exteriors) to Rome itself (interiors). It was, significantly, the only movie of size or consequence before the cameras in either city. (Commented one American observer, "Production in Italy is 45 below what it was 18 months ago; rising costs have all but killed the golden goose. Within two years the price will be up comparably in Spain, the last stronghold of the runaways. By then they should be ready to go home to Hollywood.") 'Becker' at Shepperton "Becket" filled most of Shepperton Studio outside London. . Samuel Bronston, producer of "Roman Empire," is firmly " entrenched in Madrid and has ho intention of moving to Hollywood or anywhere else in the foreseeable future. . . '' " After visiting his Roman Forum at nearby Las Matas, I could understand his current enthusiasm. There has never been a set like it, at least since D. W. Griffith's "Intolerance" of 1916 not. even the colosseum in "Ben-Hur," the Alexandria and this same Roman Forum in "Cleopatra" or Bron-ston's own medieval Iberia of "El Od" or his Forbidden City of "55 Days at Peking." BY PHILIP K. SCHEUER His forum is three-dimensional all 27 buildings surrounding the emperors' rostrum plus the imperial palace behind it. They were built of tubular steel set on concrete bases. The highest, Temple of Jupiter, towers 165 ft. above a hill already 95 ft. high. Columns coated with a mixture of paint and plastic : vie as 610 eye-catchers with 350 individual statues all as re-created by designers Veniero Colasanti and John Moore for their conception of the 2nd century after Christ. (One change: an enormous upthrusting hand has replaced a more phallic symbol.) What to do with this amazing landmark? It has been suggested to Bronston that he let it stand as a permanent attraction for tourists. Perhaps it could be equipped for night sound-and-light performances like one I attended amid actual ruins in Rome. - Sets alone, of course, are not enough. Yet to be demonstrated is . whether these will dwarf or be dwarfed by the human beings who strut the stage before them. In this "Roman Empire" (not Gibbon's but Ben Barzman's, Philip Yor- ; dan's and Basilio Franchina's) will appear names that are certainly to be conjured with Sophia Loren and Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness and James M a s o n, . Christopher Plummer, Omar Sharif, John Ireland, Mel Ferrer arid Britain's Anthony Quayle, Eric Porter and Douglas Wilmer. The scene I watched them shoot, under a sunny sky but with chilling winds, was one of the picture's last climactic ones: Lucilla (Miss Loren), daughter of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, being rescued from the stake by Livius, military tribune (Boyd). Director Anthony Mann, riding high on a crane, shouted orders in his limited Spanish to assistants who in turn relayed them to some 3,000 bit players and extras, among whom and I quote the call sheet were 50 Roman barbarian men and 25 Roman barbarian women, 20 gray priests, 40 flagellants, 32 gladiators, 19 mounted Black Praetorians, 20 trumpeters and 2,280 Roman townsmen and women, not to mention six vestals and five stilt walkers (Zancos). Glory That Was Rome This, in all its De Millenium splendor, was . Hollywood away from Hollywood . . . alas! A few days later, at Cinecitta Studio near Rome, I marveled anew at such sumptuous interiors as the Palaestra gymnasium and baths, Lucilla's bed chamber and the Temple of Jupiter. Again, here, everything was coated in' convincing plastics, and the floors, which one would swear were of marble and tile with the most intricate mosaics, proved on close inspection to be made of linoleum! each square carved out and painted a different color by a corps of students and other artisans. Turn to Page 31, Column 2

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